Library of the future?

In Demolition Man (1993), Sylvester Stallone plays John Spartan, a cop who is brought out of cryogenics in order to pursue an old enemy (Wesley Snipes) running rampant in a future, nonviolent society. Sandra Bullock also co-stars as fellow cop Lenina Huxley.

There’s no librarian in the movie, so, alas, it joins the others in Class V. I didn’t plan on having two Class V movies so close to each other (see my previous post about Moscow on the Hudson), but that’s the order I received these movies from my local public library.

But not all is lost. About an hour into the film, Lenina and John mention a library during a conversation in the car. Let’s listen in:

Lenina: I’ve been an enthusiast of your escapades for quite some time now. I have, in fact, perused some newsreels from the Schwarzenegger Library…

John:  Hold it. The Schwarzenegger Library?!

Lenina:  Yes, the Schwarzenegger Presidential Library. Wasn’t he an actor when you…

John:  Stop! He was president?

Lenina:  Yes. Even though he was not born in this country, his popularity caused the 61st amendment…

John:  I don’t want to know. President.

You can enjoy this brief scene — and the variety of amusing facial expressions from Stallone — in this clip below.

Feelin’ good for 100

It’s my 100th post, y’all! ;)

Truth, I wasn’t planning on anything special for the 100th post. But yesterday, the hubby and I spent a day in and around Astoria, Oregon — it was a lovely day, sunshiny outside and also inside my heart — complete with a trip to The Goonies house and the Oregon Film Museum. Driving home, Sam suggested it for a blog post, and everything clicked.

Oregon Film MuseumThe Oregon Film Museum started up in 2005 and is housed in the former Clatsop County Jail (in use from 1914-1976, see right), which was used for the opening breakout scene in The Goonies (1985). The museum started out as your standard let’s-look-at-exhibits kind of space (nothing wrong with that, I love museums!), and there’s still a major section highlighting Goonies-related memorabilia. But the museum is also in the process of incorporating movie sets for visitors to make their own videos! Really cool idea. The interactive movie sets are up already, including a car backed by a green screen, and a dining room set with a camera that swings around for any angle. We also met the very friendly tech guy who’s working on setting up the movie editing side of things.

So, of course, I posed for a few photos. And when I picked up the movie clapboard, Sam yelled out, “Now YOU’RE the reel librarian!” Click, print, that’s a wrap, folks. :)

Now I'm the reel librarian. It's so meta.

For more info about the Oregon Film Museum, click here for the museum’s website, which includes a “Goonies Jail Cam” video and list of other movies made in Oregon. And click here for a detailed locations tour for The Goonies.

“Goonies never say die!”

BONUS! My first review

A couple of weeks ago whilst perusing my WordPress stats, I noted some traffic coming from the Mesa County Libraries website, so I followed the link…  and discovered my first review of this Reel Librarians blog! Color me super-excited. Like :) x 100.

I immediately shared the news on Facebook (see below)… and then finally realized I should share the news, you know, on my ACTUAL blog. I know, I know. Sometimes, the best ideas take 10 days or more to process. ;)

Here’s a shot of my Facebook status when I first shared the news:

Facebook screenshot

So, the brief review is from the Mesa County Libraries blog under their “Reviews and Recommendations” section, and my site is described as both “too cool” and “awesome” with “an exhaustive list of librarian appearances in movies.” :) The entry goes on to highlight the 1995 flick Party Girl (yay!) plus lists some more personal favorites. A big thanks to Mesa County Libraries and to the reviewer, Cinephile Femme.

By the way, Mesa County is located in western Colorado. You can read more about Mesa County here, and more about the history of the Mesa County libraries here.

And if you, dear reader, would also like to review my site, please do! I would love to know what you think, and I welcome any suggestions to improve the site. If so inspired, please leave a comment.

Gimme shelter

Moscow on the Hudson (1984) surprised me. Based on the DVD cover (see left), I was not expecting much — or rather, I guess I was expecting a lot of bad accents and Russian stereotypes. To be sure, there are some bad accents and immigrant stereotypes, but overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by this movie. In truth, I found myself falling a little bit in love with my country again. It’s a typical immigrant plotline, but an intriguing one.

However, I was disappointed not to spot any librarians in the film. I went through the movie twice and called my husband in to make sure I wasn’t going crazy. At first, I couldn’t even spot a library!

So why did I request a copy of this movie from my local public library in the first place? Because in Martin Raish’s Librarians in the Movies online filmography, the line accompanying Moscow on the Hudson states: “Robin Williams has a scene in the library.” But the film is also listed in Category D, films Raish hadn’t seen yet or found adequate descriptive comments about. Perhaps there was a library scene that got deleted at some point?

I did finally find a web site that included a comment that one of the film scenes had been filmed outside a branch of the New York Public Library, the Tompkins Square Branch Library. Here’s how the outside of the library, and side alley way, appear in the movie (see right). You could also just spy a blurry library sign as the group walked past the entrance, in their hurry to get out of the rain.

It seems the library has undergone extensive renovations; click here for the branch library’s website.

So Moscow on the Hudson joins the other films in Class V, the category of films with no identifiable librarians. Below, enjoy a brief clip near the end of the movie.

6 months and counting

Woo-hoo! So I began this blog 6 months ago, on Sept. 19, 2011. :) And being the over-sharer that I am, I thought it’d be fun to help celebrate this minor milestone by highlighting some more stats and a few behind-the-scenes bits and oddities. You know, for all those questions your subconscious has never asked.

Most popular searches that result in a hit for my blog:

  • Note to self:  Move the “Do an actual post about college librarian Sylvia Marpole in An Extremely Goofy Movie” from to-do list to “Get it done already OMG” list
  • Another note to self:  Start a “Get it done already OMG” list

Favorite — and therefore TOTALLY overused! — writing quirks (do they bug or amuse you?):

  • Parentheses, dashes, exclamation points, capitalizing random words for emphasis, and smiley emoticons. ;)

Runner-up writing quirk?

  • Using a question to set up an easy follow-up answer and transition. Yeah, like I just did there.

My personal favorite posts (so far):

Most popular pages & posts overall (over 100 views):

Quick stats:

  • 6,384 total views
  • 161 views on my busiest day (Feb. 22, 2012)
  • 96 posts (not including this one) + 20 pages
  • 94 likes
  • 64 comments total
  • 54 visits daily average
  • 49 shares
  • 20 followers

Stocks, types and stereotypes

Click to view the Role Call section on this site

If you’re a regular reader of this blog — hey, Mom and Dad, what’s up? — you’re aware that I’ve just wrapped up a series of posts about character types of reel librarians (click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here). More about each character type and examples can be found in the Role Call section. I started that Friday series with a post about “The Spinster Librarian” way back in early January. Time flies when you’re having fun!

So what’s it all about? Why all this emphasis on character types, stereotypes, and whatnot?

I believe there is a wealth and variety of cinematic librarian portrayals. I don’t think every reel librarian out there is automatically a paper doll punched out and propped up onscreen. Even within a specific category, like the Information Providers, there is a variety of portrayals, as I hope I’ve shown over the last few weeks. As a librarian, I process information by categorizing it, which is how I approach this ongoing study of reel librarians.

Maybe it’s the more practical side of my librarian nature, but when it comes down to it, I am more concerned with the purpose, or the role, of a reel librarian. Why is a librarian even in a particular scene? Are they providing information relevant to the plot? Do they exist as characters outside the library? By connecting characteristics and purpose — and trying to find common characteristics beyond the “old maid ” image — that’s how I’ve come to identify a few major character types for both female and male reel librarians, as well as a handful of atypical portrayals that I feel stretch outside of those types (again, for more examples, see the Role Call section).

So this is a big lead-up to why I prefer calling these categories of librarian portrayals character types, rather than straight-on stereotypes. There’s a reason behind that. (With librarians, there is ALWAYS a reason.) Bear with me…

type is a character with specific characteristics and qualities. I see these character types akin to stock characters, a fictional character linked to a specific situation or genre. Stock characters are not inherently positive or negative, although they often rely on negative stereotypical characteristics. Stock characters are instantly recognizable, such as the “absent-minded professor,” the “hard-nosed detective,” the “damsel in distress,” and I would venture to add, the “spinster librarian.”

On the other hand, a stereotype – originally a printing term for stamping metal plates — is a cliched, consistent character or situation. Stereotypes are almost always negative caricatures or representation (sometimes ones that invert seemingly positive traits) exaggerated so the characters become absurd.

Stereotypes and stock characters both rely on generalized and simplified attributes and characteristics. Therefore, I believe these concepts connect. This explains why I refer to them as “stock characters” or “character types,” which employ stereotypical attributes to help define the character.

Using these types is often highly effective in films, especially for minor characters with little screen time. They help the audience to immediately recognize and identify the librarian. Because film relies so much on visual recognition, the character types often rely on stereotypical visual cues, such as hairstyles and clothing. There is also usually not enough time to offer more personal information or internal motivations for such characters; some types, such as the Spinster Librarian, are flat characters who do not change within the course of the story or plot. However, others, like the Liberated Librarian, are what’s called round characters, who develop and change as the plot progresses. Therefore, some character types are viewed as more positive or negative than others.

Stock characters also often represent an institution beyond a particular individual. For example, reel librarians also serve to represent the library and how it is perceived by the public. With the Spinster Librarian, the library is viewed as a place that provides a safe haven for conservative, even anti-social, librarians, and the library symbolizes strict adherence to rules above all else. Stock characters also play to or play off public perceptions, including libraries and those who work in them. For instance, the Naughty Librarian type usually serves well for shock value, because the public usually reacts with, “Oh! I didn’t expect the librarian to act like that!” That only works if the library is first viewed as a more conservative, buttoned-up institution.

I could go on and on, but that’s the whole reason behind this blog. I can go on… in another post! ;) So I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on stocks, types, and stereotypes. See you next time!

Not your typical Last Supper

The Last Supper (1995) focuses on five liberal grad students, rooming together in a big Iowa farmhouse. Smugly proud of their forward-thinking ways, they nonetheless find themselves succumbing to murderous temptations when faced with extreme right-wing thinkers at their dinner table. Funny how those tomato plants in the backyard keep multiplying…

This little-known film pulls together threads of pitch-black comedy and morality puzzlers like in Hitchcock’s Rope. And for such a small-scale film, it boasts quite a number of star cameos, including Bill Paxton, Charles Durning, Mark Harmon, and Ron Perlman. Annabeth Gish was arguably the biggest “name” in the cast at the time the film was released, but it also stars Cameron Diaz and Courtney B. Vance in roles before they hit it big. Alas, the most interesting bits in the film are the opening (and ending) credits, which could illustrate an anthology of Flannery O’Connor‘s most disturbing short stories.

*SPOILER ALERT*

So how does the reel librarian, played by South African actress and award-winning playwright Pamela Gien, end up in this Class III film? Dead, of course, with a knife in her back. Thaaaaat’s gotta hurt.

But let me back up a bit. How does she end up dead? A little over 50 minutes into the film, this (gotta be) single white female finds herself at the head of the table. Although obviously quite young, her conservative dress; minimal, if any, makeup; and nondescript hairstyle age her considerably. Strike one.

Who, me? The ‘Illiterate Librarian’ in The Last Supper

This meek librarian’s mannerisms also convey her inner Puritan; she puts her hand across her chest and also uses it covers her mouth, almost as if to block any direct, or indirect, contact. Strike two.

And then she opens her mouth, speaking in a high-pitched, nervous voice:

Catcher in the Rye is supposed to be art? Thumbelina is art. Catcher in the Rye is just mean-spirited garbage littered with the “F” word.

Strike three!

They all laugh, and Luke (Courtney B. Vance) proclaims, “I’ve heard enough. How about a toast?” (FYI, they’d been killing people with poisoned wine.)

Interrupted by the doorbell, three of the wannabe philosophers leave the room. They come back to find the reel librarian draped over a chair, stabbed in the back. Why? Because she didn’t drink wine. (Of course! Strike four!)

That’s gotta hurt

Although we actually do learn her name throughout the scene, Barbara Mensa, this Comic Relief librarian gets credited as “The Illiterate Librarian.” And she continues to inspire controversy after her demise.

Marc (Jonathan Penner): “But look at her. She was just an illiterate. I mean, we’re getting out of hand.”

Paulie (Annabeth Gish): “They’re not people. They’re people who hate.”

Jude (Cameron Diaz):  “What are you talking about? She just had bad taste.”

So there you have it. Fellow librarians, dissing Catcher in the Rye in public can lead to very bad things. I’ll be keeping my own opinions on that controversial classic to myself. ;)